Saturday, April 12, 2008

Stripping in Batavia

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
12 Apr 2008 N21481 5G0 (LeRoy, NY) - GVQ (Batavia, NY) 0.3 607.1

At the surface, the wind was 20 knots, gusting to 25.

It was a short, but bumpy ride from Le Roy to nearby Genesee County airport.  With the wind coming right down the runway, my groundspeed fell to nothing as I turned final and Warrior 481 seemed to come straight down like an elevator.  After the feather-light landing, I taxied to the tie-downs, presented the side of the airplane to the wind, and shut down.  My greatest feat of the day was single-handedly managing to shroud the airplane with a cover in the howling wind.

Once it was covered and tied-down, I left my Warrior to await its annual inspection.  But this year would be different because I finally found time to do an owner-assisted annual.

My sincere thanks go to the great guys at Boshart Enterprises (Batavia, NY), and Jim in particular, for really giving me the run of the shop and teaching me a lot about my airplane.  My experience began with the trivial task of opening inspection panels, rolling around under the wings on "The Cadillac" (pictured above, lower right).  From there, I learned a little bit about working with fiberglass (patching holes in the worn corners of my air filter box) and riveting (repair on a cracked baffle).

I decided that my poor, beat up control yokes needed refinishing (yes, Dave, yokes - the things my Spam Can uses in place of sticks).  So I stripped the paint (hence the title of this page), sandblasted, and solvent-washed them in preparation for powder coating.

I also disassembled the carb heat box, serviced the wheel bearings, rotated the tires (not the wheels as done on cars, but the actual tires), cleaned and inspected the mags (500 hour inspection), checked cylinder compression, and a whole host of other items.  My experience ended with a tedious day spent replacing cracked plastic components on the instrument panel with new pieces made from "the original Piper molds" that nonetheless required significant modification to fit into place.

I am most excited about those yellow cables visible in the photo.  Those are the leads that connect my new JPI EDM-700 engine analyzer to newly installed cylinder head and exhaust gas temperature probes.  Now that I am flying around with both my wife and daughter aboard, I am quite enamored with the notion of onboard engine monitoring that may facilitate early warning of developing problems.

Lastly, I came face to face with my nemesis of two years ago: the crankshaft seal.  This is a metal disc, about 3" in diameter, that appears to be made of brass.  When first placed in the end of the hollow crankshaft, it is slightly convex.  Seating the seal involves pounding the center of the disc with a hammer and punch until it becomes partially concave.  As I watched Jim pound this thing into place with a hammer, I wondered if Lycoming ever employed any cavemen in its engineering department.